Business Travel Secrets:
I’ve spent more time in hotel rooms this year than I have in a long time.
Business, rather than pleasure, made up most of my time on the road.
What have I learned from my travels regarding a place to lay your head?
First of all join several of the hotel membership clubs of your favorite hotels.
Why join the hotel chain clubs, won’t they just fill your email with spam?
Hotel Reward Clubs Advantages
- They are free.
- They have an 800 number that might get you a better rate.
- You have a better chance of getting a room upgrade.
- Customer service is better-sometimes you get your own check in line.
- Most hotels give you a freebie when you check in-whether it’s a free bottle of water, a cookie, or a newspaper.
I’m currently a member of Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred hotel organizations. We have reached the
second third tier of the Hilton organization and have enough points for free rooms at all of them.
You have to pay attention as most of the reward organizations have many different named hotels under their umbrella.
- Hilton Honors: Hilton of course, but also Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn (we love those), Doubletree, Embassy Suites (another favorite) and Waldorf Astoria. 3900 different hotels worldwide
- Marriott Rewards: Marriott, and JW Marriotts but also Springhill Suites, Courtyard (another favorite), Renaissance Inn, Residence Inn, Town Place Suites. 3600 world wide properties. You can earn extra points by referring your friends. If they stay within a year, you get extra points.
- Starwood Preferred: Westin, Sheraton, aloft-(for the too cool for school), W. properties (yes I always think of second President Bush too) and many random luxury hotels-The Swan and Dolphin at Disney are under Starwood brand.
- IHG/Priority Club Rewards: Holiday Inn and Express, Staybridge, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo to name a few.
- Best Western and other single hotel chains frequently have their own membership organizations.
If you have a favorite hotel, or a place you stay frequently because of where you travel, it is silly not to take advantage.
Don’t forget to use them. We let Marriott points expire unused a few years ago. We won’t be making that mistake again.
If you are using a credit card at a hotel and you aren’t a member of their preferred guest organization, you can join and get credit for that stay, or you may be able to get rewarded for your stay at your airline rewards account-(We got Delta airline points for our stay in Denver for Fincon12.)
What are some of the things I’ve learned this year in my frequent travels?
- Take advantage of those hotels with free breakfast; breakfast is one of the most expensive meals, for what you get, at many hotels.
- Don’t be shy about asking for room upgrades. We got a room with a view just for asking at The Dolphin. All they can do is say no.
- Check for double rewards-many organizations run specials, if you happen to book a room during those times you can get extra points-take a minute to check.
- If you have a special request: again, just ask. At a Hilton Garden Inn in Pensacola, Florida last year, there were a couple of tables in a courtyard. We asked if we could be served dinner there as it was a beautiful evening. Though they don’t normally serve food outside, they let us have a meal al-fresco-it was delightful.
- Check out free coffee service-many hotels make a pot of coffee outside the breakfast area for early risers. Cil, who gets up at a disgustingly early hour, asks this question on check in. “When is the coffee ready?”
- Use the exercise facilities-even most inexpensive hotels at least have a treadmill or an exercise bike. Get up a little early or exercise before you get settled for the night. It’s easy to put on weight while traveling from sitting in cars, planes, or trains and eating out. Move your buns before they grow bigger.
Travel can be laborious, but usually because you let little things bother you. Remember to just go with the flow. Even business travel can be enjoyable if you have the right state of mind. Don’t forget to take advantage of these perks. They can help you travel on the cheap for your next vacation.
I plan on using my airline miles for a first class trip for two, and my hotel points for my lodging, very soon. The only thing left is food and beverage. Look out, I may be stopping by your home for happy hour and dinner as I travel through Texas, (Average Joe and Carrie), Los Angeles (Penzo and Honey Bee), San Francisco (Financial Samurai) Philadelphia (Dom) and San Diego (Kay Lynn) using personal finance bloggers to mooch from….Coast to Coast for less than 100 bucks-that would be a great post!
What rewards clubs are you a member of? What has been your best perk or upgrade?
Let me hear your favorite cheap travel story!
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